After the Buccaneers' starting offense and defense played well in building a 7-0 lead, Tampa Bay's reserves allowed Miami to take the lead in the second half and couldn't stage a fourth quarter rally as the Bucs fell to the Dolphins, 10-7, in the 2010 preseason opener. Click here for PewterReport.com's game recap.
The Buccaneers lost their preseason opener at Miami 10-7 to the Dolphins, but Tampa Bay’s starting offense and defense looked sharp in the 2010 debut.
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was perfect in his first action of 2010, completing 4-of-4 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in limited action, producing a 158.3 QB rating. Freeman had a 30-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Mike Williams on a fade pass down to the Miami 13.
Two plays later, Freeman hit Sammie Stroughter with a 13-yard strike for a touchdown. With 3:07 left in the first quarter, Tampa Bay led 7-0.
“It was a play we tried to max it out,” Freeman said. “It’s a good combo play where Sammie was the first read, then Mike Williams sits down and then Michael Clayton is in the back of the end zone. We were down in the dirt, the guy initially jumped Sammie, so I went to Mike Williams, who was covered, then went back to Mike Clayton. The guy who was on Sammie dropped off and then I banged it in to Sammie and Sammie ran in. It was an awesome play by him.”
The Dolphins answered right before halftime with a 33-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. Strong safety Sabby Piscitelli hit offensive lineman Cory Proctor after the whistle blew and was flagged for a 15-yard penalty that gave Miami a first down at the Tampa Bay 24. Carpenter booted the field goal two plays later to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-3.
With 4:00 left in the third quarter, Bucs rookie kicker Hunter Lawrence missed a 49-yard field goal to the right.
Miami took the lead after a 2-yard touchdown run by Lex Hilliard, which capped off a 61-yard drive. The big play was a 34-yard pass from Tyler Thigpen to Marlon Moore, which gave the Dolphins a first down at the Tampa Bay 11-yard line.
On fourth-and-6 from the Miami 45, reserve safety Corey Lynch blocked a punt and Tampa Bay took over at the Dolphins’ 30. Lynch blocked two kicks in 2009, which was his first season in Tampa Bay. That set up a scoring opportunity for the Buccaneers, but head coach Raheem Morris elected to go for the touchdown instead of a field goal on fourth-and-3. Rudy Carpenter’s pass to Terrence Nunn was incomplete and the Dolphins’ 10-7 lead remained.
Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the game or possibly win it foiled with 2:15 left in regulation. After a 26-yard punt return by Preston Parker set up Tampa Bay with a first down in Miami territory, Carpenter’s pass on third-and-6 from the 40-yard line hit receiver Chris Brooks in stride, but he fumbled at 11-yard line after being hit by defensive back Nate Ness. The ball was scooped up by safety Reshad Jones at the Miami 9 and the Dolphins ran out the clock for a 10-7 victory.
Despite the loss, there was plenty that Tampa Bay was happy with in the preseason opener. The Bucs want to become a run-first offense this year and starting halfback Cadillac Williams got things off to a good start with four carries for 21 yards (5.2 avg.). But the same could not be said for backup running back Derrick Ward, who struggled mightily.
Ward had 12 carries for 20 yards (1.6 avg.), and on his longest carry of the night, a 10-yard dash, he fumbled the ball in Miami territory. Ward also had one catch for one yard.
Third-string running back Kareem Huggins, who has been one of the buzz-worthy players in training camp, made a strong statement that he should be Williams’ backup this year instead of Ward. Huggins ripped off a 35-yard dash on his first carry and finished with 55 yards on eight carries. The Bucs out-rushed the Dolphins 139 yards to 50, which had to please Morris, whose defense was the 32nd-ranked unit against the run in 2009.
Tampa Bay’s offense out-gained Miami 309-206 yards. The Bucs offense converted 46 percent of their third downs (7-of-15), while the Dolphins were held to 23 percent on third downs (3-of-13). Tampa Bay's offense had four turnovers (three fumbles), while its defense recorded just one turnover – a fumble recovery by cornerback E.J. Biggers, who had a great game. The Bucs only had one sack, which was by reserve defensive end Michael Bennett.
Backup quarterback Josh Johnson went 8-of-13 for 72 yards, but lost a fumble and had an interception on an errant deep throw. Carpenter finished the game 6-of-12 for 72 yards but had two missed opportunities to put points on the board in the second half.
The Bucs started three rookies on Saturday night, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, wide receiver Mike Williams and punter Brent Bowden. McCoy drew several double teams and did not record any tackles. Williams’ 30-yard catch in the first quarter set up Tampa Bay’s touchdown and Bowden averaged 35 yards on four punts with two downed inside the 10-yard line.
For more on the play of Tampa Bay’s rookies, click here for PewterReport.com’s Bucs Rookie Report - Preseason Game 1.SATURDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS
The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Saturday’s game at Miami was as follows:BUCS STARTING OFFENSE
WR Mike Williams
LT Donald Penn
LG Jeremy Zuttah
C Jeff Faine
RG Davin Joseph
RT Jeremy Trueblood
TE Jerramy Stevens
WR Maurice Stovall
FB Earnest Graham
RB Cadillac Williams
QB Josh FreemanBUCS STARTING DEFENSE
LE Kyle Moore
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Roy Miller
RE Stylez G. White
WLB Geno Hayes
MLB Barrett Ruud
SLB Quincy Black
LCB Elbert Mack
RCB Ronde Barber
FS Tanard Jackson
SS Sabby PiscitelliMISSING IN ACTION
Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that did not travel with the team for Saturday’s game:
TE Kellen Winslow (held out for precautionary reasons)
CB Aqib Talib (groin injury/personal-family reasons)
DT Brian Price (hamstring injury)
CB Myron Lewis (hamstring injury)
KR Clifton Smith (hamstring injury)
FS De'von Hall (undisclosed injury)BUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Bucs wide receiver Maurice Stovall, who got the start at flanker opposite Mike Williams, was carted off with a leg injury after he got rolled up on by a Dolphins defender while blocking for Cadillac Williams on a running play in the first quarter. KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Dolphins game at Sun Life Stadium was 59,108 although the stadium was barely half full. The kickoff temperature was 84 degrees under cloudy skies with 87 degree heat index. There was a brief shower right at kickoff.UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (0-1) will head home to play the Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) on Saturday, August 21 in Tampa Bay’s preseason home opener. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised locally on Channel 8 (NBC) WFLA unless it is blacked out if the game does not sell out.
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